By measuring the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of the artifact.
Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.
An “isotope” is any of several different forms of an element, each having different numbers of neutrons.
The illustration below shows the three isotopes of carbon.
With our focus on one particular form of radiometric dating—carbon dating—we will see that carbon dating strongly supports a young earth.
Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.
When these energetic neutrons collide with a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom it turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons).